About Marcus Garvey

Marcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940) was the youngest of eleven children born into a poor Jamaican family.

Because of his family’s impoverished state, he became an apprentice to an uncle, a printer, at the age fourteen. On July 15th 1914 Garvey founded the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association). It’s motto was “One aim One Destiny!” Based on the Hampton-Tuskegee model, Garvey laid plans to set up industrial schools in Jamaica but received opposition. Because of their correspondence of Booker T. Washington invited Garvey to America.

He went to Harlem and within a fee months enrolled over one thousand people in the UNIA. A few weeks later the membership doubled. In 1919 Garvey created thirty branches and claimed two million members. The Black is beautiful idea, recruiting followers from Afroamericans, giving them a sense of Hope and Power.

After many failed attempts, Garvey Successfully created a weekly news paper, the Negro World. Besides English, it was also printed in Spanish ans French for Blacks overseas. In keeping with his views of racial pride, the World refused to carry ads that promoted skin bleaching creams and hair straightening products. Some Governments considered the newspaper so dangerous that for it’s possession for the person could receive imprisonment for five years.

Near the end of the summer 1919, Garvey had been under surveillance from the FBI and headed a list of eighteen that the government wanted deported.

The Government drew up it’s complaint January 9th 1922 and three day’s later issued both subpoenas  a warrant for Garvey’s arrest. Authorities arrested Garvey on February 20th and charged him with using the mails to defraud and with conspiracy to do the same. The jury found him guilty of conspiracy and sentenced him to the maximum of five years imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. President Calvin Coolidge commuted Garvey’s sentence and sent him back to Jamaica as an undesirable alien. Government agents knew that Garvey wanted to become a US citizen and by giving him the undesirable alien status, they made it impossible for Garvey to return to this country.

Ref: written by George Junne, Proffessor and Chair, Africana Studies Department UNC